Bipolar Disorder Treatment and Addiction
Bipolar Disorder is a mental health brain disorder that was once called manic depression due to its characteristic symptoms of highs (mania) and lows (depression). While many believe bipolar to be a rare condition, that is far from reality.
According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), about 5.7 million adult americans are affected by bipolar disorder. That’s almost 3% of all people aged 18 or over.
While the average onset for bipolar is age 25, it may be nearly as common among youth. Recent research shows that a similar percentage of adolescents between ages 14-18 meet the criteria for the disorder.
We still have much to learn about bipolar disorder. Because of this, it is one of the most frequently misdiagnosed mental health conditions. In fact, many of those suffering from bipolar will experience symptoms for up to ten years before receiving an accurate diagnosis.
The DBSA reports that only one in four adult males will receive an accurate diagnosis within the first three years of having any symptoms.
Bipolar disorder is marked by severe shifts in mood ranging from inappropriate euphoria to severe depression. This mental instability often results in relationship issues, financial crisis, suicidal tendencies, and a significantly higher likelihood of addiction.
However, it is unclear whether bipolar causes addiction or if addiction triggers bipolar. There is reason to believe that these conditions are very intertwined.
Many who suffer from bipolar will turn to various substances to self-medicate. In turn, these substances may trigger manic or depressive episodes. Because of this, bipolar and addiction are commonly comorbid and require dual diagnosis treatment for recovery to be successful.
There are several forms of bipolar, each with their own defining criteria. The most commonly diagnosed forms are Bipolar I and Bipolar II.
Both conditions are marked by episodes of mania and depression, but those diagnosed with Bipolar I have experienced at least one severe manic episode that lasted seven days or longer. It is not uncommon for the extreme manic episodes associated with bipolar I to require hospitalization.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar mania symptoms are usually easier to diagnose than depression symptoms and can include many of the following:
- Decreased need for sleep
- Feeling jumpy or wired
- Racing thoughts
- Increased risky behavior
- Inappropriate euphoria
- Grandiose ideas
Bipolar Depression Symptoms
Bipolar depression symptoms are more difficult to diagnose than mania symptoms because they often mimic the same depression symptoms that are not related to bipolar. Bipolar depression stmptoms usually include, but are not limited to:
- Increased need for sleep
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Loss of interest
- Difficulty concentrating or indecision
- Changes in appetite
- Suicidal thoughts
- Lack of energy
- Feelings of guilt
Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Bipolar and Addiction
When treating a client suffering from both bipolar and addiction, it is important to treat each issue simultaneously.
Treating one without the other will prove to be an ineffective solution in the long-term as they can be closely connected, with one often acting as a catalyst for the other.
At Alo House, we understand that the greatest hope of recovery for many of our clients is through Dual Diagnosis Treatment.
While it is often necessary to prescribe medication for bipolar disorder, psychiatric counseling is just as important. Most studies confirm that medication combined with cognitive therapy offers the most succesful means of recovery for those living with bipolar disorder and addiction.
At Alo House, in addition to receiving the medical care that is required, our clients are treated using evidence-based therapy methods including (but not limited to):
We also integrate holistic methods that teach our clients how to self-regulate their emotions after completing treatment.